Misyon Online - September-October 2016

A Columban Centennial on 10 October

Frs Edward Galvin, John Blowick, Owen McPolin, China 1920
Fr McPolin led the first group of Columbans to Korea in 1933

One hundred years ago on 10 October the Bishops of Ireland gave their blessing to a new venture known as the Maynooth Mission to China. On 29 June 1918 this venture became the Society of St Columban, in the Diocese of Galway, Ireland. The Missionary Society of St Columban, as it is now known, is already preparing to celebrate its Centennial in 2018.

Youth, Reconciliation and Pilgrimage

By Fr G. Chris Saenz, Chile, ‘00

The author is from Omaha, Nebraska, USA, and is a frequent contributor to Columban publications. He spent some time in the Philippines during his formation and was ordained in 2000. He is based in Chile.

Fr Chris Saenz with young pilgrims

‘Father, I am angry that my parents are divorcing.’  This could be an example of a young person’s confession.  I am often struck by the honesty and profoundness of what young people share.  It highlights for me what the sacrament of reconciliation means - a true desire to seek God’s saving grace in a situation that one would like to leave behind. 

The God of Surprises: Pilar and CLM Beginnings

By Fr Michael Martin

This is a slightly edited extract from the book Walking in Their Light, written by Columban Fr Michael Martin on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of his ordination to the priesthood last year, 2015. September 2016 marks the end of a year of events for the Silver Jubilee of the Columban Lay Missionaries (CLM).

L to R: Emma Pabera, Gloria Canama and Pilar Tilos

Three Filipinas, Emma Pabera, from Candoni, Pilar Tilos from Hinoba-an, both in Negros Occidental and the Diocese of Kabankalan, and Gloria Canama from Tangub City, Misamis Occidental, Archdiocese of Ozamiz, resigned from their work in 1990 and came together for an eight-month team-building program to prepare themselves to go as Columban Lay Missionaries to Pakistan. The three were hard-working and experienced teachers, all from families really close to the Columbans, and all exceptionally enthused about that missionary way of being Church, Pilar Tilos, who had coordinated physical education, and assisted in promoting sports, dance, and music in the public elementary schools of Hinoba-an, the southernmost municipality in Negros Occidental, had long felt called to mission. She applied, was accepted, and joined the first Columban Philippine Lay Mission Team, named ‘RP1’. ‘Larps’ - her nickname - was a great mimic and the life and soul of many a party and parish activity.

Meeting Mother Teresa

By Fr Michael Mohally

Mother Teresa with Fr Michael Mohally

Blessed Mother Teresa will be canonized by Pope Francis on Rome on 4 September. We are re-publishing this article by Columban Fr Michael Mohally who met the saint a number of times. We first printed it in the September-October 2003 issue of Misyon. Fr Mohally has spent most of his life as a priest working with Columban seminarians, in Ireland and the Philippines. He is now based in the Columban central house in Manila.

Logo for Canonization [Wikipedia]

The first time I was to have met Mother Teresa was in Hong Kong. I was asked to bring a package to her there from where she was to accompany Sisters into China to set up the first foundation of the Missionaries of Charity there. When I got to the convent I was told that the China foundation was on ‘hold’. Newspapers had got hold of the story and said that she was going there as the representative of the Pope. Rather than wait around, Mother Teresa had gone to Hanoi to set up a new foundation there.

By Their Sickbeds

By Louland Escabusa, cicm

The author, from Pilar, Bohol, is a seminarian of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM).   From 2011 until this year he was studying theology at CIFA - Communauté Internationale de Formation en Afrique (International Community for Formation in Africa). In September he is going to Hong Kong for a two- to three-year internship program.


Marina became a familiar scene. Every week there she was, seated on the bench just outside her room, often with her mother, a checkered shawl wrapped around her shoulders, her petite frame crowned with a contagious smile. The light in her eyes spoke of an enigmatic glee but couldn’t hide the pain and sorrow that almost gnawed away at her hope, her joy, and the very purpose of her being. Among the faces of patients that I encountered during my apostolate in the hospital hers was one of the few that left an indelible mark on me, making my apostolate meaningful and my integration in Cameroon enriching.

From my Own Ghetto into a Space of Solidarity

By Louie Ybañez 

Louie Ybañez, a licensed architect by profession, is a seminarian of the Missionary Society of St Columban and is currently studying theology at Ateneo de Manila. He is from Agusan, Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines.  He spent two years on First Mission Assignment in Pakistan from 2014 to 2016. Here are two articles he wrote, the first after returning to the Philippines and the second while still in Pakistan.

Louie (back row far right) with Asnawi Family, Sultan Naga Dimaporo, Lanao del Norte

When I lived in Pakistan I was part of the 1.6 percent who are Christians in this predominantly Muslim country of an estimated 203 million people. In Pakistan many Muslims have hardly even met a Christian and certainly do not know anything about the Christian faith.  Nor are most of them even interested because it is not a major concern for nor does the Christian faith impinge on their daily lives. Prejudice among Muslims towards Christians and vice versa, is common because of the lack of willingness or even interest to engage with each other.

When Church Means Home

By Fr Kurt Zion Pala

Father Kurt is from Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, and was ordained priest in November 2015. He spent two years in Fiji on First Mission Assignment while still a seminarian and a year in Malate Parish, Manila, first as deacon and then as priest. He is currently based in Cagayan de Oro involved in vocations work and mission promotion. He will be taking up an assignment in Myanmar early in 2017. You will find links to previous articles by Father Kurt here.

Father Kurt with altar servers in Malate Church, Manila

Just after I had celebrated Mass in Our Lady of Remedies Church, Malate, Manila, an altar server came up to me and told me that a youth who had decided to leave home wanted to speak to me. I saw a bag in the guard house and I got nervous thinking the story must really be true. I knew the boy in question and when I found him his eyes were red from crying. So I invited him to one of the counseling/confession rooms in the convento. He sat down and started to sob.

After an argument with his mother she told him to leave the house unless he stopped being an altar server. He explained that he had done everything his mother had told him to do but could not leave the church or stop being an altar server. He said, ‘Ang simbahan po para sa akin ay tahanan hindi tulad sa bahay’ (‘The church is like a home to me, unlike the house I live in’). He felt at home and free to be himself in the church.  I tried my best to calm him down and asked him to go back home. After a little more convincing he told me he would.

St James the Less, El Greco, 1610-14
Museo de El Greco, Toledo, Spain [Web Gallery of Art]

Instead, the wisdom which comes from above is pure and peace-loving. Persons with this wisdom show understanding and listen to advice; they are full of compassion and good works; they are impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow peace reap a harvest of justice.
James 3:17-18 (Christian Community Bible)

To Search is to find

The Angelus, Jean-François Millet, 1859-60
Musée d'Orsay, Paris [Web Gallery of Art]

I have received many messages on Facebook, through texts and emails about luck, eg, ‘Please pass this on to 10 persons and after three days you will receive luck’ or, especially on FB, ‘If you really believe, pass this on to others’ or ‘If you believe, press Amen’ etc.